Kronzek Firm Attorneys

Is CPS To Blame For Two Babies Deaths?

By the time Scott Jurewicz was arrested for the abuse and murder of 1-year-old Brenden Hartranft, he was no longer dating Brenden’s mother, Brooke Hartranft. He had already moved in with his next girlfriend, Andrea Conaway, and her children, one of whom died the day before Jurewicz’s arrest. Which is why Conaway’s family is convinced that CPS and other authorities are to blame for 21-month-old Junior Pepper’s death.


The incident that started it all took place in the early evening of March 14th, 2015. Emergency responders were called to the home that Jurewicz shared with his girlfriend at the time, Brooke Hartranft. According to police reports, Brenden was “unresponsive”, and was rushed to the hospital. In an interview with police that took place the following day, Jurewicz admitted that he had shaken the boy.


Brenden died just days later at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. The death certificate states that his death was the result of  “diffuse anoxic brain injury”, which means that his brain was completely starved of oxygen. Following an investigation, CPS petitioned the court to remove Brenden’s surviving siblings from their mother’s care.


But although Jurewicz had admitted to shaking the toddler, and the cause of death was deemed  consistent with child abuse, Jurewicz was not arrested. According to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, they chosen not to file charges until they had received the results of the autopsy.  


The results took approximately nine weeks, and during that period of time another little boy died.


Jurewicz was arrested, charged, and later convicted on charges of child abuse and murder, but not before Junior, the 1-year-old son of his new girlfriend, died of similar injuries. Court records reveal that Conaway was warned by the police, CPS workers, a private therapist, and her own family that Jurewicz was not safe to have in the home with her children. However, she chose not to listen to the warnings.


Her family, however, believes that authorities could have done more to protect Junior from Jurewicz. Removing him and his brother from the home, for example, instead of simply advising their mother not to leave them alone with Jurewicz. Conaway herself has said that police should not have dragged the arrest out for nine weeks, which put other children in jeopardy.


CPS, for their part, has admitted that they could have handled the situation differently.  According to Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, after Junior’s death, 75 CPS workers and other state officials received training in how to handle similar situations in the future.

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